ESSENDON coach James Hird is already looking forward to having another crack at the Fremantle juggernaut after the Bombers' 28-point loss at Domain Stadium on Saturday night.

The Dockers strangled the life out of the Bombers, surging to a 54-point lead at three-quarter time before Essendon booted four unanswered goals in the final term to add some respectability to the scoreboard.

But Hird was far from downcast after the match, suggesting his side’s poor execution had been pivotal in the Dockers getting away from them.

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"We'd like to obviously have another go at Fremantle later in the year if we got the chance," Hird said.

But he conceded a rematch would be tough.

After having played the Sydney Swans, Hawthorn and Fremantle, Hird is in an excellent position to gauge which team is the trendsetter. 

"I think they are definitely the best team we've played," Hird said.

"Structurally they set things up very well, they get the extra behind the ball very well … and when they go, they're hard to stop and they have some exceptional one-on-one players and it's hard to find a match-up for all of them.

"At the moment they are the yardstick of the competition and they'll take some beating.

"(But) it's only round six and we're all trying to get better." 

WATCH: James Hird's full post-match media conference

Essendon returns home for a Friday night clash with North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium and should welcome back experienced trio Paul Chapman, Adam Cooney and Dustin Fletcher. 

"They'll all be ready to play … and we'll look at our reserves as well, there are some kids who are ready to play," Hird said. 

"We need to get back to really hard, contested footy and using the ball properly. We just are not using the ball the way we want to use it (or) to AFL standard."

Hird accepted a suggestion that lack of match conditioning while players sat out the pre-season NAB Challenge may have been affecting the team, but said it was not relevant to what they had to do now.

"Perhaps the lack of match conditioning has hurt us a little bit who will know, we'll never know. What I do know is we have to win against North Melbourne next week and we have to put up a much better performance," he said. 

"Whether it is a fact that we are not playing well, whether it is the fact there is an emotional letdown whatever the factor is it doesn't matter." 

He said the issues exploited by Fremantle had to improve immediately. 

"We cost ourselves a lot of those goals that were kicked against us with our turnovers in the middle of the ground," he said. 

"I am not sure if the margin flattered us or not but the game certainly got away from us in the second quarter and a lot of it was to do with our ball use and our inability to use the ball properly and that really hurts. 

"There were a number of kicks and handballs that were really below AFL standard and it is an area we have to work on. 

"We asked our players to kick the ball and not so much handball the ball from stoppages and keep taking ground and we weren't doing that. 

"After quarter-time we lost our ability to kick the ball and we just overused the ball around the contest and we lost the contest too often ... those two middle quarters really hurt us."